Managing employee time off requests
- Employees use time-off requests to get permission to take personal time in the future.
- Managers and small business owners can either approve or deny the requests based on the rest of the team’s availability
- With Homebase, managers can easily manage time-off requests, right from the mobile app.
What is a time off request?
A time-off request is a way for small business team members to submit a formal request to take time off work in the future, whether that is paid time off (pto) for vacation time, or unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Implementing a rule in your employee handbook for employees to submit leave requests is crucial to ensuring the efficiency of your small business. You need to track time off for each employee so you know how many staff members are available per shift. This way you can make better scheduling decisions.
You have several options when it comes to PTO and vacation requests. Typically, businesses require a request in writing for employee leave on a first come first served basis. A leave of absence letter is a formal request typically meant for longer-term leave, so many businesses tend to require employees to submit a request email or use a time-off tracker or time-off manager to handle the requests.
If you don’t have a human resources department to help manage time-off request form templates, consider using time and attendance tracking software like Homebase. In our mobile app, managers can track employee availability, time-off requests, and approvals. We’ll even alert you when an employee is late clocking in for their shift and help prevent time theft and buddy punching with our unique time clock features.
How to manage employee time off requests
- Be clear with your time off policies
- Ensure your policies have been received and read by employees
- Incentivize employees to work during holidays and peak seasons
- Use software to stay up-to-date with time off requests
- Let employees trade shifts amongst themselves first
Be clear with your time off policies
This ensures no one pleads ignorance to the rules. It is also a general best practice to communicate openly and honestly with team members. Having a well-thought out plan for time off requests will save a headache when you are confronted with time off requests later.
Ensure your policies have been received and read by employees
It is equally as important for employees to understand the time off policies as it is to have the policies. What is the point of having a policy if no one reads it? After working hard on your rules and regulations steps should be taken to ensure employees read and understand these policies. For many businesses this includes an onboarding discussion and sign-off of the rules. Make sure employees are updated if policies change.
Incentivize employees to work during holidays and peak seasons
Holiday season is perhaps the most requested time off period, depending on your industry. Many businesses have blackout-dates, meaning employees are not allowed to request time off for these days. That is one of the incentives. Another incentive is a bump in pay for specific dates. If these aren’t in your wheelhouse, at the very least, make sure employees know how much their hard work is appreciated. Pizza and doughnuts in the breakroom is usually a good place to start!
Use software to stay up-to-date with time off requests
Using software to manage time off requests is extremely effective and heavily encouraged. Software is the way of the future, but also the present. Any manual handling of timesheets and time off requests is a thing of the past. Software can save you precious time, money, and backbreaking work not only in the long run, but immediately.
Let employees trade shifts amongst themselves first
Giving employees the freedom to trade shifts benefits your business on multiple levels. First, it demonstrates to employees that they can be trusted. It also gives them the freedom to create a schedule they want or pick up shifts for extra money. Secondly, it gives you more freedom to do your job, while handling minor shift trades can fall to the responsibility of those looking for more shifts, or looking for shifts covered, you can handle managerial or ownership duties which are never in short supply.
Can an employer deny requested time off?
The reason for taking personal time dictates whether or not you can deny a time-off request. If one of your employees needs to take time off for a reason that is covered by the FMLA, you are not allowed to deny the request if it is within the 12 weeks provided by the law.
However, if an employee wants to use their paid time off, you have the right to deny the request if it doesn’t work for the schedule, or if their request is not in compliance with your time-off policy, like a last minute request.
For example, if your policy states that leave needs to be requested a certain number of days in advance, and they ask for a day off after that time window has ended, you would have the right to deny the request. Especially if more than one team member has taken the day off without any time-off bidding and you are short-staffed.
If you want to deny a request in Homebase, it’s very simple. Your employees’ requests appear in your dashboard. When an alert is received, you can either approve it by clicking the check or deny it by clicking the X. With such an easy management solution, you and your employees can get the requests handled in a timely manner, which means more time to get back to business.
Owner at Barzotto
Where can I find a time-off request template?
If you use Homebase, your employees don’t need to track down a template from the internet, they can simply use the Homebase app to submit their requests. All they need to do is sign into their Homebase account, select “request time off,” and from there they can select to request either the whole day or a specific amount of time.
Once they hit save, the request is instantly sent to their manager, who can instantly approve or deny the request.
Do employees need to write a time-off request letter?
Formal letters are typically reserved for instances where your small business employee needs to take a lengthy period of leave for medical or family reasons under the FMLA, or any family and medical leave your state provides.
However, if they are simply taking a day off for personal reasons, a letter isn’t necessary—the Homebase time-off request form will be enough.
And with your time-off requests on the same platform as your time and attendance system, online time clock, and scheduling, you’ll have no problem keeping track of who can work and when. We’ll even keep track of your remote workers with our GPS time clock.
Managing employee time off FAQs
Can you deny an employee time off?
Yes, time off can be denied for many reasons, if there are overlapping requests for example, the time off generally goes to the co-workers who requested time off sooner. shift trades are also an option for people whose time off requests were denied.
How far in advance should employees request time off?
This all depends on your policy, as a general rule most businesses require at least two weeks advance notice for scheduling purposes. However, this might be different if an employee is requesting time off during the holiday season.
What do you say to an employee who requests too much time off?
Give the employee incentives to work more, like better shifts, or positive feedback. Taking too much time off is a sign an employee is about to quit, so you’ll want to try and find out their reasons for time off requests. Some people are more prone to illness and therefore will take more sick days and time off for doctors appointments. The most important thing is to be up front and honest with your employee and hope they will reciprocate.